From new floral trends to a record number of nuptials this year, the wedding and event industry is changing and booming, offering florists new opportunities to generate revenue, experts say.
“The industry as a whole has changed, and I think one of our biggest challenges is how we adapt and maneuver with this change,” says Zoë Gallina, AAF, of Botanica International Décor & Design Studio in Tampa, Florida. Brides have bigger budgets, they are more willing to spend over budget and they are demanding more complex designs of florists.
Sarah Campbell, founder of Intrigue Designs in Denton, Maryland and a contestant on Netflix’s The Big Flower Fight, believes one of the best ways for florists to adapt is to hone their skills so they can attract clients with in-demand, dramatic, beautiful, bold designs.
“Demand for floral installations is only going to increase,” says Campbell, who is known for her over-the-top installations.
Campbell and Gallina will share their expertise in separate sessions at SAF Orlando 2022, the Society of American Florists’ 137th annual convention Sept. 6-8 in Orlando, Florida. In her hands-on session, “Floral Installations That Increase Sales,” Campbell will share tips for creating large floral installations, pricing strategies and sales techniques. Gallina’s session, “Wedding Do’s and Don’ts: How to Gain and Maintain Clients,” will provide post-pandemic strategies for networking with vendors and tips for generating strong profit margins from high budget weddings while meeting client expectations.
Predictions of 2022 being the year of the wedding are holding true as couples finally say “I do” after postponing weddings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 2.5 million weddings are expected to take place this year, the most since 1984, according to the Wedding Report, a trade group that surveyed vendors and consumers on wedding trends. The group also estimates that the average wedding budget will grow from $22,500 in 2021 (when there were 1.93 million weddings) to $24,900 in 2023 (with an anticipated 2.24 million weddings).
That finding aligns with Gallina’s observations. Not only are budgets higher, she says, but couples are willing to pay more to get everything on their wish list.
Many couples are seeking trendy installations, which is a good way to attract business, Campbell says.
“So many designers are so good at doing what most clients ask for with bouquets and centerpieces, but when a client is dreaming, they aren’t dreaming about the basics,” Campbell says. “People want that immersive experience. They are really drawn to it.”
Learning the skills to impress potential clients with endless floral design possibilities enables florists to showcase how they are keeping up with trends that many brides see on social media. Equipped with those skills, designers can scale installations to suit individual budgets, Campbell says.
“That ‘wow’ factor is what draws [the client] in,” she says. “It’s setting you apart from the average [florist]. Once you draw them in you can sell.”
That’s especially important because brides can be very exacting, says Gallina.
“We are finding brides to be more demanding and more particular in regard to everything,” she says.
Using simple, repetitive techniques, basic tools (her favorite is a paperclip) and a few choice flowers, Campbell says anyone can learn to suspend floral arrangements from a ceiling, cover a wall in flowers and build any number of large installations. She has found that working with a limited mix of flowers and greenery helps maximize her bulk pricing, demands less labor and generates better profit margins. Design-wise, she says the industry is just starting to flex its creative muscles to wow clients.
“We are seeing the beginning stages of something really incredible,” Campbell says.
Click here for a full schedule of SAF Orlando sessions and events.
Sarah Sampson is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.